Florida defense communities will receive $1.8 million in grants from the Florida Defense Support Task Force to support seven defense projects across 13 counties, Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced last week.
Several of the awards are aimed at helping the academic performance of military children. The task force awarded $225,000 to the Military Child Education Coalition to support military kids across 12 counties and assist more than 322,400 military and veteran-connected students, parents, school personnel, community members and installation representatives. Two separate awards were made to the National Math Science Initiative (NMSI).
“Working in collaboration with education, community and installation partners, the Military Child Education Coalition will offer student and parent support services, professional development, and a military student transition consultant embedded at the school level to meet needs as they arise,” said Todd Buchs, vice president of programs and business development for the coalition.
“NMSI’s College Readiness Program for military families provides excellence and continuity for students whenever and wherever their families are transferred,” said Gregg Fleisher, the group’s president. “With the support of the Florida Defense Support Task Force, NMSI will be able to expand this proven program to more military connected students across the state, and help ensure that they have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful no matter what college or career path they choose.”
The Florida Defense Support Task Force was created in 2011 with the mission to make recommendations to preserve and protect military installations, support the state’s position in research and development related to military missions and contracting, and improve the state’s military-friendly environment for service members, military families, military retirees and businesses that bring military and base-related jobs to the state.
Projects receiving grants include:
- Bay County — $73,500 to support the NMSI to improve the academic performance of military children;
- Clay County — $400,000 to buffer Camp Blanding from incompatible land development and $101,500 to NMSI to improve the performance of military children. The $400,000 grant will be used along with funding from the St. Johns River Water Management District;
- Highlands County — $500,000 to acquire conservation easements and preserve military readiness by limiting incompatible development near Avon Park Air Force Range. The grant also will be used as matching funds for a 2017 application to DOD’s Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program;
- Okaloosa County — $250,000 to the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County to help expand non-hazardous military training near Eglin AFB and $100,000 to the Doolittle Institute to establish a technology innovation center at or near Eglin. The $250,000 project will allow Eglin to continue to collaborate with the Florida Forest Service to schedule non-hazardous military missions in Blackwater River State Forest and Tate’s Hell State Forest, which will relieve airspace congestion; and
- City of Key West — $150,000 to refurbish the Truman Annex seawall which protects a boat ramp facility used by Naval Air Station Key West for mission-ready exercises and naval operations in the harbor.
This grant program is administered by Enterprise Florida.